Every family knows that school nights are hectic nights. Between homework, school activities and more homework, families have little time to spend making elaborate meals. But just because a meal isn’t fancy doesn’t mean it can’t taste great. That’s where the slow cooker comes into play. Simply throw your ingredients in, turn it on and bam! You’ve got a yummy dinner everyone will enjoy. An added bonus to slow cooker meals is that clean-up is a snap. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
6 Easy Slow Cooker Meals For Hectic School Nights:
1. Slow Cooker Lasagna Soup
1 lb ground beef
3 cups of beef broth
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 TB dried parsley
1 TB dried basil
1 TB dried oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 – 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 – 6oz can of tomato paste
1 cup V8
2 cups uncooked shell pasta
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup water
1 cup shredded cheese
Mix together the can of tomatoes, and tomato paste in the slow cooker
Add broth, beef, garlic, parsley, oregano, crushed red pepper, basil, onion, V8 and salt/pepper.
Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours. Top with cheese.
2. Slow Cooker Creamy Salsa Chicken
4 -5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed
16 oz. of your favorite salsa
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Optional: 1 can of corn, drained
Optional: 1 can of black beans, drained
Bake chicken in slow cooker for 3.5 hours on high or longer if chicken was frozen
In separate bowl, stir salsa and cream cheese (and optional drained corn and/or drained black beans)
Pour mixture in slow cooker over chicken and cook for additional 1/2 hour on high.
With 10 minutes left, add 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese to melt on top.
Serve with a side of chopped green onions, rice, salsa, and sour cream.
3. Slow Cooker Sausage Bean Soup
1 pound smoked sausage
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (48-oz.) container chicken broth
3 cups dried great Northern beans
2 cups chopped yellow onion
3/4 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
10 garlic cloves, sliced
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Parmesan cheese rind
1 fresh rosemary sprig
Garnishes: chopped fresh parsley, parmesan cheese
Cut sausage into 2-inch pieces, and halve sausage pieces lengthwise, cutting to but not through other side. Cook half of sausage in 1 Tbsp. hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Transfer sausage and drippings to a 7-qt. slow cooker. Repeat with remaining sausage and oil.
Add 1 cup broth to skillet, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to loosen browned bits from bottom of skillet. Boil 1 minute or until reduced by half. Stir beans, next 7 ingredients, boiled broth mixture, 3 cups water, and remaining broth into slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 7 hours or until beans are tender. Discard cheese rind.
Stir mixture with rosemary sprig 30 seconds to 1 minute; discard rosemary. Remove 1 cup beans, and process in a blender 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth. Stir pureed bean mixture into slow cooker. (Repeat procedure with 1 more cup beans, if a thicker consistency is desired.) Serve immediately.
4. Slow Cooker Chicken with Bacon, Mushrooms and Onions
1/2 pound sliced bacon, diced
1 4- to 6-pound chicken, cut up
1/2 cup dry white wine (or 1/4 cup dry vermouth plus 1/4 cup water)
1/2 pound small white mushrooms
1 cup frozen small white onions, thawed
6 garlic cloves, chopped
3 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 1 tablespoon dried rosemary leaves)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-low heat until crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer it to a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Pour off all but a light coating of fat from the skillet. Add the chicken and brown over medium-high heat; transfer to the cooker.
Pour the wine into the skillet and scrape up any browned bits; add the skillet contents to the cooker, along with the mushrooms, onions, garlic, rosemary, and salt. Cover and cook on low heat for 6 hours, or on high for 3 hours.
Transfer the chicken, bacon, and vegetables to a platter; keep warm. Pour the sauce into a small saucepan. Combine the water and cornstarch; stir it into the sauce. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Pour over the chicken.
5. Slow Cooker Cuban Braised Beef and Peppers
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
2 red bell peppers, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 onion, cut into 8 wedges
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin, salt and black pepper
1 1/2 pounds flank steak, cut crosswise into thirds
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the tomatoes, bell peppers, onion, oregano, cumin, 1½ teaspoons salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Nestle the steak among the vegetables.
Cook, covered, until the meat is tender and pulls apart easily, on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.
Twenty-five minutes before serving, cook the rice according to the package directions.
Using two forks, shred the beef and mix it into the cooking liquid. Serve with the rice and top with the avocado and cilantro.
6. Slow Cooker Classic Pot Roast
4 pounds chuck roast
salt and pepper to taste
1 packet dry onion soup mix
1 cup water
3 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 stalk celery, chopped
Season the roast with salt and pepper to taste. Brown on all sides in a large skillet over high heat, about 4 minutes per side.
Place the roast in the slow cooker and add the soup mix, water, carrots, onion, potatoes, and celery.
Cover and cook on Low setting for 8 to 10 hours.
Photo Credit: Big Stock